TRAVEL bosses were furious about the “hammer blow” to the industry when it was announced that all passengers must now take a Covid test before entering the UK.
Despite causing fury across the industry, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab defended the rules and insisted the move was necessary to prevent the Omicron variant from crippling the country.
But tourism industry leaders said the last-minute measures would leave “businesses failed, tourists stranded and livelihoods devastated”.
The latest blow to the ailing industry will be introduced on Tuesdays at 4 a.m following a sharp rise in cases of super stress, the ministers said.
They hope it will be a temporary step if they succeed in getting ahead Omicron infection, a variant first identified in South Africa.
Those returning to the UK will now need to provide a negative PCR or internal flow test 48 hours prior to travel.
Families going on Christmas holidays will now have to spend up to £100 more in pre-departure tests, which travel bosses fear will act as a “major deterrent” for holidaymakers.
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Corporate Travel Association, objected to the rules and said they were in direct conflict with assurances made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“The introduction of pre-departure testing with little warning is a major blow to the travel business,” he explains.
“Public safety is a priority, but businesses will fail, tourists will be stranded and livelihoods will be devastated due to the lack of coherent plans from the Government.”
Tim Alderslade, British Airways chief executive, added: “It’s too early to hit millions of passengers and the industry before we’ve seen the full data.
“We have no clinical evidence. These measures must be phased out as quickly as possible consistent with the pace of the enhancement program.”
Airport Operators Association CEO Karen Dee has made a decision that will shake up the slowly recovering industry.
“Most of the limited demand left after the self-isolation regime will be gone, just as airports are hoping for a small increase over the Christmas break,” she said.
It comes like Today’s Omicron cases have skyrocketed to a staggering 53%, with another 86 cases of infection reported in the UK on Sunday.
It means the total number of confirmed cases of the variant in the UK is now 246 – with 68 of them in the UK.
Dominic Raab supports the Government’s decision, but admits it is a “burden”.
Former foreign minister He told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “I know it’s a burden on the tourism industry but we’ve made great, long strides in this country.
“We have to take pre-targeted measures to prevent new variant seeding in this country from creating a bigger problem.
“We’ve taken a balanced approach but we’re always wary of additional risks that keep us from moving forward.”
Health Minister Sajid Javid said the measures were “extremely regrettable” but insisted they were only temporary.
“We’ve always said that we’ll act quickly if needed if the data changes that require it,” he said. “We want to remove them as soon as possible.”
But experts warn tourism measures are “too late” to make a “material difference” in stopping a wave of cases.
Government adviser Professor Mark Woolhouse said: “I think it might be the case that the barn door is closed after the horse has bolted.”
The Labor Party has welcomed the “return”, after calling for their return since the Omicron variant was first identified.
But Shadow Home secretary Yvette Cooper added: “We desperately need them to learn the lessons of the importance of acting quickly with Covid border measures rather than being subjected to enormous pressure each time to end the pandemic. must act together.”
The ministers acted after initial evidence that the gap between infection and infection was shorter than in the Delta variant, meaning cases could be detected earlier.
The decision will be reviewed on December 18 along with other COVID measures such as wearing face masks on public transport.
Nigeria becomes a ‘red’ country along with other countries including South Africa, meaning UK countries must self-isolate at home and others must place quarantine services hotel approved by the government for ten days.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/16947604/travel-bosses-furious-hammer-blow-industry-tests-raab-defends/ Travel bosses angry at ‘hammer blow’ to industry as tests put in place before UK entry but Raab defends rules